Russia Hints At What They May Do If We Don’t Back Off

Our adversaries smelled the blood in the water when Biden took office. They have been acting up and making all sorts of bold moves: China flying warplanes in Taiwanese airspace, Iran and North Korea building up their nuclear programs, and Russia has about 100k troops sitting at the Ukrainian border supposedly not waiting to invade. We met with the Russians at the Geneva Conference in hopes of coming to some kind of peace, but it looks like that is not happening any time soon. In fact, because we did not meet Russia’s demands they are now pointing out that they could move nukes around to places that we wouldn’t like either.

Mr. Putin wants to extend Russia’s sphere of influence to Eastern Europe and secure written commitments that NATO will never again enlarge. If he is frustrated in reaching that goal, some of his aides suggested on the sidelines of the negotiations last week, then he would pursue Russia’s security interests with results that would be felt acutely in Europe and the United States.

There were hints, never quite spelled out, that nuclear weapons could be shifted to places — perhaps not far from the United States coastline — that would reduce warning times after a launch to as little as five minutes, potentially igniting a confrontation with echoes of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

“A hypothetical Russian invasion of Ukraine would not undermine the security of the United States,” said Dmitry Suslov, an analyst in Moscow who gave a closed-door presentation on the standoff to Russian lawmakers last month. “The overall logic of Russian actions is that it is the U.S. and NATO that must pay a high price.

And as Ukrainians were reminded anew on Friday, as the websites of the country’s ministries were defaced in a somewhat amateurish attack, Russia’s army of hackers can wreak havoc in Ukraine, but also in power grids from Munich to Michigan.”

“In Geneva, Russian diplomats insisted there were no plans to invade Ukraine. But there were hints of other steps. In one little-noticed remark, a senior Russian diplomat said Moscow was prepared to place unspecified weapons systems in unspecified places. That merged with American intelligence assessments that Russia could be considering new nuclear deployments, perhaps tactical nuclear weapons or a powerful emerging arsenal of hypersonic missiles.

In November, Mr. Putin himself suggested Russia could deploy submarine-based hypersonic missiles within close striking distance of Washington. He has said repeatedly that the prospect of Western military expansion in Ukraine poses an unacceptable risk because it could be used to launch a nuclear strike against Moscow with just a few minutes’ warning. Russia, he made clear, could do the same.

“From the beginning of the year we will have in our arsenal a new sea-based missile, a hypersonic one,” Mr. Putin said, referring to a weapon that travels at more than five times the speed of sound and could likely evade existing missile defenses.

In an apparent reference to the American capital, he added: “The flight time to reach those who give the orders will also be five minutes.”

Mr. Putin said he would deploy such missiles only in response to Western moves, and President Biden told Mr. Putin in their last conversation that the United States has no plans to place offensive strike systems in Ukraine.

Russian officials hinted again in recent days about new missile deployments, and American officials repeated that they have seen no moves in that direction. But any effort to place weapons close to American cities would create conditions similar to the 1962 crisis that was the closest the world ever came to a nuclear exchange.

Asked about the nature of what Mr. Putin has termed a possible “military-technical” response, Sergei A. Ryabkov, a deputy foreign minister, said in Geneva on Monday: “Right now there is no reason to talk about what systems will be deployed, in what quantity, and where exactly.”

And when a Russian reporter asked Mr. Ryabkov in an interview broadcast on Thursday whether Russia was considering deploying military infrastructure in Venezuela or Cuba, he responded: “I don’t want to confirm anything or rule anything out.”

We haven’t said we would move nukes into Ukraine or anything like that. But Russia hates that we would have an ally so close to their border and is upset that other European countries have also joined NATO. They have gone as far as claiming Ukraine is like their Taiwan, so it looks like conflict may be inevitable and worse Russia is hinting about possibly moving some nukes to Cuba…

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